Today I have author Phyllis H. Moore stopping by to tell us a little bit about the inspiration for her latest book Birdie & Jude.
A moving novel of loss, regret, denial, and discovery on Galveston Island, from the author of Opal’s Story and The Ember Months.
Birdie has lived to regret many of her decisions, but she doesn’t regret offering a stranger, Jude, shelter from an approaching hurricane. Their serendipitous meeting will form a bond that will change their lives forever.
In a character driven story with memories of the protests and inequality plaguing the 1960’s, Birdie’s reached middle age and questions her life. Jude is striking out on her own, but has been derailed by a fatal accident claiming her only friend. Although their backgrounds and lives are vastly different, they recognize something in the other that forges a friendship.
As their relationship solidifies, they share glimpses of their pasts. Birdie is a product of the ’60’s, an aging hippie, with a series of resentments. She had a sheltered childhood in an upper class family. Her parents longed to see her make the Texas Dip at the Mardi Gras ball. Jude, however, entered foster care as an infant. Her parents, victims of a murder/suicide, left her and her siblings orphaned and separated.
There is something about their connection that strikes Birdie as familiar. Can souls know each other in different lives? Birdie struggles with the awareness that she has had regrets and hasn’t lived an authentic life, while Jude faces an uncomfortable truth about her own. It has all the feels.
Heaven Can’t Wait, the Inspiration for the Novel, Birdie and Jude
A hurricane barreling toward the Texas coast was the initial inspiration for my novel, Birdie & Jude. In the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, I watched the local news chronical the exodus of flooded neighborhoods. Some of the people interviewed had been to parties where they watched a popular sporting event. They had become trapped in a home, not their own.
Galveston Island, Texas is the location of the state’s first medical school. There is a level one trauma center in the University of Texas teaching hospital. I asked myself what might happen if a tourist traveling by car with a friend was the only survivor of a fatal car accident. If that tourist was planning a vacation as a celebration for her college graduation, and everyone she knew was deceased and the car was totaled, how would she proceed, especially if she had grown up in foster care and had no family?
Jude, the survivor, leaves the hospital emergency room, shocked by the tragic accident and a hurricane is approaching. Birdie, a seasoned islander, takes her dog, Ollie, for a walk before they hunker down for the storm. They happen upon Jude. This meeting begins their acquaintance and friendship. However, Birdie is struck by something. Jude is familiar to her, a soul from Birdie’s past.
Jude’s presence takes Birdie back to the turbulent 1960’s, a time when she was expected to appear as a debutante at the Mardis Gras Balls and marry a successful husband. However, Birdie was more interested in protesting the war and demanding civil rights. A ball gown and practicing the Texas dip held no attraction for Birdie Barnes. Her best friend, Henry, planned to enlist in the army and participate in the war she detested, and her parents intended to send her away to a school where she could get her head on straight.
Meeting this familiar soul, encourages Birdie to do some soul searching of her own. She’s past middle age, but she still hasn’t figured out who she is. She’d accepted her parent’s notion that she was flawed, maybe crazy. No one expected Birdie to hold a job and she was treated as a stubborn eccentric. But Jude didn’t know Birdie’s past, she only knew the woman who offered her shelter from a storm.
What happened to Birdie in the 1960’s made her give up her authentic self and live the life prescribed by her family. Women could be weak and fragile, but they couldn’t be belligerent and confrontational. The family had a reputation to maintain. It was Birdie’s choice to buck that notion or give in to it.
In a tale that spans from Birdie’s rebellious teenage years to her present day quarrels with her Mah Jonng group, the reader is offered glimpses of the incidents that formed Birdie’s quarrelsome nature. At times she can be a force to be reckoned with. But Jude is there for a reason and even though she doesn’t know what it is, she knows she’s destined to stick it out.
A quote from a reviewer: “Before you judge anyone, contemplate this: ‘…everyone filters their experiences through their own history. Whatever shapes a person, may never be known by anyone else.’ – from the book. Get ready to experience this story with your own filters.”
All of my strong female characters are searching for their authentic selves. I invite you to explore their stories.
Phyllis H. Moore wants to live life experiences more than once: doing it, writing about it, and reading about it. The atmosphere of the south draws her in and repels her. The characters are rich with dysfunction and redemption, real. She’s had two careers and two retirements. Both careers gave her inspiration for her novels: The Sabine Series, Sabine,Billy’s Story, Josephine’s Journals and Secrets of Dunn House, Opal’s Story, Tangled, a Southern Gothic Yarn, and The Bright Shawl, Colors of Tender Whispers, The Ember Months, Birdie & Jude, and an anthology of spooky short stories inspired by real places and events, The Bridge on Jackson Road. In 2018 she also released a new genre for her, A Dickens of a Crime, a Meg Miller Cozy Mystery. She has authored one nonfiction book, Retirement, Now What? Phyllis has been published by Caffeinated Press in the anthology, Brewed Awakenings 2, Fifteen Tales to Jolt Your Mind Awake.
Phyllis is a retired social worker and former owner/operator of a small bed and breakfast. She’s lived in the rural areas and cities of south Texas. She currently lives on Galveston Island with her husband, Richard.